The Christmas Story: the Faithfulness of Joseph

“And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream… When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus.” (Matthew 1:19-20 & 24-25)

I think about Joseph a lot–Mary’s husband, Jesus’s dad. I think about him a lot because the entire story of Christmas would look dramatically different without him. Even as Jesus’s Father was God the Father, Joseph as a human man willing to step into such an impossible role speaks volumes to the way in which he was intent on serving God.

Joseph’s faithfulness baffles me on so many levels. For years, every time Christmas rolls around, I sit wondering about this carpenter who, for some reason, decided to be a father in the most difficult of circumstances to a kid who was not his own.

And I am baffled–I am baffled by the servant heart, the unwavering strength, and the incredible kindness that must have emanated from this very regular man’s presence. I wonder at the things that God allowed Joseph to teach Jesus–the examples of character he got to pass on to this God-Son of his.

I learned recently that the name Joseph actually means “He will add.” That is especially overwhelming–this man didn’t just have faithfulness to his not-yet-wife, his not-blood son, a God who had left him with a lot of questions–but God was faithful to him. God will add, and God will be incomprehensibly faithful.

The story of this incredibly ordinary man’s life is utterly permeated with faithfulness like we cannot comprehend.

I wonder what kind of questions Joseph asked God throughout his married and parenting life. I wonder if there were moments when he asked what exactly he had signed up for–if there was a time when he regretted taking on such a calling. Maybe there were nights when he wondered at the societal shame and familial shunning if he should have said no to God.

But to the same degree, I wonder that in the worst of circumstances–in poverty and social suicide–I wonder if he remembered quietly all the ways God had shown up. God spoke to Joseph quite clearly more than once–sending angels and wisemen and prophets. I wonder, that even in the silence, Joseph remembered and continued in the promises he had seen so faithfully carried out by God before–in the worst of it and the best of it. There was always a promise to look back on, to see the fruit of, to wonder about.

It must have been, that in comparison to the pain and suffering that came from saying yes to God, the Grace, the Joy, the Hope that covered him, was that much greater.

Joseph’s faithfulness astounds me, but God’s faithfulness overwhelms and covers me all the more.

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

What Good News.

•••

With Love,

Hannah

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